Amex drives in wrong direction with Uber (Amex Platinum to increase annual fee by $100 in exchange for Uber discounts)

Update: The offer for the Business Platinum card has expired and benefits of the card have changed. Please see our Best Offers page for a complete description of the current offer and benefits.

Last fall, when Amex unveiled enhancements to their Platinum cards (5X airfare rewards on personal Platinum cards, and game-changing enhancements to their Business Platinum Card) they stated that these changes were just the beginning.  I took that to be a promise of more good things to come, but maybe I should have taken it as a warning…

Early yesterday morning, news broke about upcoming changes to the Amex Platinum personal cards.  Full details can be found here: AmericanExpress.com/PlatinumUpdate.  Here is a summary of the changes which take effect on March 30th:

  • Annual fee increases from $450 to $550 (existing cardholders will keep their current annual fee until they renew their membership on or after September 1 2017)
  • The new card will be made out of metal
  • Free authorized user Gold cards
  • $200 Uber Credit and Uber VIP status.  Apparently cardholders will get $15 credit per month (and $35 credit in December).
  • 5X rewards for prepaid hotel bookings made through Amex Travel.
  • “Expanding Global Lounge Collection”

To me, 5X rewards for booking prepaid rates through Amex Travel is hardly worth mentioning.  If you’re willing to book prepaid rates (which won’t earn hotel rewards), then you’ll almost always do better elsewhere.  For example, you can typically click through a cash back portal to Hotels.com for 7% cash back, apply a coupon and/or earn Hotels.com rewards too.  That way you’ll also earn credit card rewards (e.g. 3X with the Chase Sapphire Reserve).

And, having a metal card just means that my wallet would be heavier.  Who needs that?

Free authorized user Gold cards is good, but those cardholders don’t get any of the great Platinum card benefits.

An “expanding Global Lounge Collection” may be interesting, but its unclear exactly what that means.  We do know that more Centurion Lounges are being built.  That’s great, but Centurion Lounge access was already a Platinum card benefit.

So, the only meaningful changes, in my opinion, are the “enhanced” annual fee ($550 now instead of $450) and up to $200 in Uber credits spread out $15 per month (and $35 in December).  If you use Uber regularly and are 100% sure that you’ll use the credits, then it seems like a good trade-off.  For everyone else, not so much.  Would you pay $100 up front for the possibility of saving $200 on Uber rides with a max savings of $15 most months?  I wouldn’t.

Terrible Timing

I can’t imagine a much worse time for Amex to get in bed with Uber.  After all, the Uber CEO was recently captured on video arguing with an Uber driver

Uber driver and ceo

And the company has been reeling from sexual harassment claims

Uber sexual harassment

And, of course, there was the #DeleteUber campaign

Delete Uber

And I could go on and on.  Regardless of how you feel about these issues, you’ve gotta admit that Uber has been having a bad year.  I’m sure Amex has had this deal in the works for a while now.  They might just be regretting it though…

What’s next?

The Amex Business Platinum Card’s 50% rebate when paying with points for flights (with some restrictions) has led many to suddenly consider the card to be worth its $450 annual fee.  But will they feel the same if Amex increases the Business Platinum fee to $550?  I’m guessing no.  I hope that Amex doesn’t do it, but its hard to imagine that they won’t.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. […] changes coming to the American Express Business Platinum card as of March 30th, 2017. We have previously reported on changes to the personal Platinum card.  According to Gary Leff’s sources at American Express, the Business Platinum changes are a […]

Comments

  1. Are you positive on prepaid hotels through Amex Travel does not earn loyalty points? I have in the past earned status points when booking prepaid hotels.

  2. If one can add AU users free of charge, I do see potential value for taking advantage of more Amex Offers. No one’s mentioned this on any of the blogs. Am I missing something!?

  3. As the details come out, it doesn’t seem to be a positive. I use Uber infrequently. Would’ve been better if it hadn’t been per month and had been lump sum.

    Not sure I will continue past this year either.

    Cmon Amex!

  4. Like @David L asks, One of my first thoughts is about using the free AU’s for Amex offers. 2-3 AU’s and I could easily save more than that $100 increase in much less than a year.

    I am slightly confused by the Uber credit though.Does it accumulate or do I lose the $15 a month if I don’t Uber that month? I live in a quasi non-Ubering place so rarely use it at home. No good to me if it vanishes every month!

    • @Carl Everything I’ve read so far suggest the $15/month for Uber shows up as a credit, that will indeed expire at the end of the month if unused.

      • Well, then that is frickin’ useless for me about 6-8 months out of twelve, at least, unless I just go on a $15 joy ride around the neighborhood each month! More lounges is good, but depends on where, also! All of us have differing needs for the card benefits but they ought to match better, IMHO, anyhow.

        Thanks for the clarification!

        Maybe I need to take that leap of faith and try applying to the Biz Plat now instead of late this year as per my schedule.

        • Don’t let the marketing term “more lounges” fool you. ONE more lounge somewhere in the world == “more lounges”.

  5. They should have split the uber stipend/allowance quarterly rather than monthly if they didn’t want to give it as a lumpsum. At least that way, it’s enough to get you one roundtrip to the airport.

  6. The Uber perk adds maintenance effort / stress for everyone except the most consistent Uber users.

    Not a good trade off for $100 real dollars out of pocket.

    Anita

    • I agree 100%. This is a BS “benefit” that (1) will not induce be to become an Uber user and (2) pisses me off about the added fee. In fact, I know feel like I am subsidizing Uber users (and Uber itself) with the extra $100 I am paying.

      Poorly done, AMEX.

  7. Uber credit great for city dwellers. Say what you will about the CEO and their culture, but Uber has enabled tens of thousands of people to become income-making independent contractors.

    As for the rest of the Platinum perqs, they seem fine. Would really like it if the free extra Au cards were Premier Rewards. Then the fee would be very worth it.

  8. Not worth the fee and will downgrade especially when there are so many other cards worth paying the fee for (Chase Reserve). Uber credit isnt very useful as I only use it when im pissed drunk and cant drive home lol

  9. Interesting, I actually find some value in uber. We use it occasionally, but not often enough to use all the credits BEFORE they expire. I was really hoping you would get the $200 in uber credits at the beginning of the year, to use throughout the year. We like to use Uber or Lyft for our airport trips, when it makes economic sense to do so (cheaper and easier, sometimes, than paying to park at the airport).

  10. no real new benefits for using the plat amex and the XXXTRA $100 fee –OUCH Uber not a big deal they need to get with the program>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  11. The 5x at hotel is silly. I though Amex aspired to business travelers with their high end cards. What am I going to do with non refundable hotels?

  12. Spoke to customer agent earlier today regarding reverting back to Gold on annual fee date. This was NOT a good strategic marketing decision. I don’t even use Uber…prefer taxicab. I think AMEX overshot on their efforts in capturing millenials, and will face a backlash on the price hike.

  13. Shows how out of touch Amex has become. Who, other.than a tiny few, will use the ridiculous $200 Uber credit? The rest will simply get a $100 fee increase for no meaningful additional benefits. Fail.

    Disgusted at this so-called enhancement

  14. I called and emailed to AMEX to let them know how offended I was by the partnership with UBER given the ongoing revelations about their leadership…thought I was a protest of 1 😉 – suggest everyone contact them to let them know what a poor decision this is so they can course correct and try to retain us.

      • not surprisingly, the CSR guy was polite, but it was over his pay grade ;). However, my email got sent around and I eventually got a call from Sr. Manager, Platinum Concierge Strategy. And we probably talked for like 30 minutes – and the way I left it with him was, I felt heard. Which in today’s political climate is hard to come by 😉 – but at the same time – that business is moved by numbers – so if everyone uses this benefit and no one let’s them know their dissatisfaction – then it will continue. at the time i thought i was a protest of 1 though…so if everyone gives feedback – then they’ll think it impacts the bottom line…then they might care. But we’re going to re-connect in September cause he assured me there were other changes between now and then that would earn the retention of my business.

  15. I also let AmEx know that I find a partnership unacceptable. Will be cancelling my card before the renewal. It is a wasted benefit for me, as I don’t want to support a company so toxic for female employees.

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